The Delhi High Court on Wednesday ruled that it is compulsory to wear a mask inside a private car even when the driver is alone, as a vehicle is considered a public place.
The ruling was passed by the bench of Justice Pratibha M Singh who said that a mask acts as a Suraksha Kavach that prevents people from the spread of the deadly coronavirus. "Wearing of a mask or a face cover in a vehicle, which may be occupied by either a single person or multiple persons, is... compulsory in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic," the court order said, as reported by Hindustan Times.
The court also dismissed a bunch of pleas that challenged wearing of a mask while driving alone in a car and also reprimanded lawyers who took up the cases challenging the safety measure. It observed that if the lawyers would comply with the rules, common people will also be encouraged to follow these.
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Justice Pratibha M Singh has heard many petitions challenging the decision of the Delhi government to impose challans or fines on people found not wearing a mask while driving alone.
Earlier, an advocate Saurabh Sharma had filed a plea against the challan of ₹500 imposed on him by the police for flouting the rule and sought a compensation of ₹10 lakh. In response to this, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had said that it has not issued any guidelines directing people to wear a mask while travelling alone in a vehicle. But it also informed that health is a state subject and the matter therefore pertains to the state government. The Delhi government, however, maintained that a personal vehicle is not a private zone but a public one.
The ruling comes at a time when the country is witnessing a surge in the number of Covid cases with over one lakh cases being reported for the first time since the pandemic started. The capital witnessed over 5,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, for the first time since November 27, 2020. Earlier, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had raised the amount of fine for anyone not wearing a face mask in public place to ₹2,000 from ₹500.